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Simultaneous Identities

Simultaneous Identities
Language, Education, and the Nepali Nation


Part of South Asia in the Social Sciences

  • Date Published: December 2020
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108489928

£ 75.00

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About the Authors
  • The recent socio-political changes in Nepal have brought assimilationist notions of Nepali nationalism under a tight scrutiny and drawn attention to more plural, inclusive, and diverse notions of Nepaliness. However, both assimilationist and pluralist visions continue to remain normative in their approach, and often posit ethnic and national identity in opposition to each other. Drawing on the everyday practices in the two schools, this book illustrates that social actors in minority language education did not necessarily select between minority identity and national identity, but instead made simultaneous claims to more than one social identity by discursively positioning 'ethnic identity' as 'national identity'. It builds on the notion of 'simultaneity' to illustrate that it is through the 'unresolved co-presences' of apparently contradictory ways that people maintain their multi-layered identities. By arguing for an analytical necessity to adopt relational approach, it aims to complicate the neat compartmentalisation of identities.

    • Helps the reader to rethink existing theories on ethnicity and nationalism
    • Provides methodological insights and details on the ethnography of schools and education in Nepal
    • Gives a bottom-up perspective on the social changes in Nepal
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Questions of language and schooling are central to most theories of nationalism and yet there have relatively few detailed ethnographies of nationalism or sub-nationalism in schools. In the Nepalese context there have been many studies of education and many studies of ethnicity, but until Uma Pradhan spent time in two schools that take pride in their mother-tongue teaching, no one had studied the interaction of ethnicity, language, cultural capital, public perceptions of quality, and pedagogy in actual practice. With this innovative and landmark monograph on multilingualism and schooling, we have, for the first time, a sophisticated and practice-focused ethnographic examination of cultural nationalism and multilingual education in Nepal as they are experienced, (re)produced, and resisted 'at the coal face', i.e. by the children receiving them and by the teachers, activists, and bureaucrats seeking to deliver and/or manage them.' David N. Gellner, University of Oxford

    'Pradhan's book is a powerfully argued analysis of students', educators', and activists' uses of language to re-situate ethnic identities within discourses of Nepalese nationalism. Simultaneous Identities takes to new levels our understanding of the complex politics and everyday practices underlying the social production of ethnicity and nationalism.' Amy Stambach, University of Wisconsin

    'This work on multilingual education is challenging both in theories and practices. With the deployment of extensive methodologies such as participant-observation, personal communications with teachers, parents and education officers including case studies of students of two mother-tongue schools of Nepal Bhasa in the city of Kathmandu and Dangaura Tharus in Kapilbastu, the outcomes address identity, language, education and nationalism of non-native speakers of Nepali, the national language. This exhaustive research work is the first of its kind on multilingual education after the constitution of Nepal in 1990 has declared primary schooling in mother-tongue is fundamental right. Hence, it makes a significant contribution to understanding learners from minority language communities are at education disadvantage, the benefits of MLE, and requirements for success and sustainability of MLE programmes.' Nirmal Man Tuladhar, Social Science Baha, Nepal

    'In this ethnographically-rich and theoretically-sophisticated study, Pradhan explores the politicised and controversial issue of mother-tongue education in Nepal. Through a nuanced analysis of everyday language practices and discourses around language use in two mother-tongue schools, the author sheds light on the complex interplay between education, national identity, and ethnic identity in the fast-changing socio-political context of contemporary Nepal. This is an important and timely book that situates mother-tongue schools as spaces where social authority and power are negotiated.' Mark Turin, University of British Columbia

    'With its focus on everyday politics of mother tongue education in Nepal, this book is an invaluable and timely contribution to the bourgeoning regional scholarship of educational ethnography in Nepal and to the wider field of educational anthropology. It opens up the realm of language use and exchange inside two minority language schools through rich ethnographic accounts and thereby makes a compelling case for understanding the relationship between education, power and language politics. The book is a must for anyone with an interest in education in Nepal, mother tongue education and linguistic hierarchies, and more broadly the intersection between educational and linguistic anthropology.' Karen Valentin, Aarhus University, Denmark

    '… Simultaneous Identities is a well-written ethnography that … offers a fascinating read on ethnography and presents a rethinking of multiculturalism in the context of Nepal … it makes in-depth observations based on everyday detail and existing literatures, providing an analysis of nuanced relations among the agents of power from a cultural perspective … as it is written by an indigenous Newar researcher, the book provides an impressive reflection on the researcher's position.' Jingwei Li, Journal of Contemporary Asia

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    Product details

    • Date Published: December 2020
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108489928
    • length: 290 pages
    • dimensions: 237 x 161 x 24 mm
    • weight: 0.52kg
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    List of figures and images
    List of acronyms
    Introduction. Language, education, and the Nepali nation
    1. Language, education, and state-making in Nepal
    2. Constructing an educated person
    in mother tongue
    3. Language, public space, and identity
    4. Transforming a language to script
    5. Knowledge-making, language, and education
    6. Quality, equality, and language ideology
    7. Ethnicity, education, and employment
    Conclusion. Simultaneous identities.

  • Author

    Uma Pradhan, University of Oxford
    Uma Pradhan is a Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow and Junior Research Fellow at the University of Oxford. Her research focuses on power-laden dimensions of education and examines the interconnection between state, society and schooling. Her research has been published in journals such as Education and Ethnography, Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education, Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education, and South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies.

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